longtime companions: good-keeper squash

squash1IF YOU WANT COMPANY FOR A DAY OR WEEK, grow a zucchini. If you want company for a year or longer, grow a “good keeper” like these two winter squash who have lived in the house with me since September 2007. Really. Welcome to Food Fest 8, a weekly share-your-recipes event with the Dinner Tonight blog.

I am wild for winter squash, including ‘Jumbo Pink Banana’ (guess which one that is?) and ‘Triamble,’ a blue-skinned three-parted creature of similar endurance to the former. The banana, which can get to 40 pounds or more in a warmer climate, resides in my living room, the gray-blue beauty on my desk. For a year already. Cut flowers, or even a potted orchid? No match. These beauties really last.

That’s because they are all in the species of Cucurbita (say: kew-CUR-bit-a) called maxima, the best “keepers” in the squash clan and also some of the finest-grained and thickest-fleshed and to my tongue, tastiest. ‘Blue Hubbard’ is in this species, too, and if you want pies or soup or “pumpkin” bread this winter, it’s a Hubbard type that you should trot out to the farmstand and buy right now. No hurry to cook it up (though you can, sliced lengthwise in half, then baked skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet till soft, and scooped out into freezer containers once it cools for use later).

squash2I may cook up and mash one or two of this year’s harvest to freeze for soup or pie filling or flan or bread later, just to save time when I develop a craving for some “pumpkin” recipe, but really why do it now? Such beauties who are willing to sit around and dress the place up are always welcome at my house, so invite them to just linger awhile and keep me company I do.

Food Fest is supposed to be about the recipes, but I’m feeling a little whipped from my day at the ‘Martha’ show and all of it lately.  And besides, when I eat winter squash, it’s normally just as is, with some maple syrup or butter or salt, perhaps. Or baked into a pie filling, or better yet crustless…sometimes I make the pie filling for pumpkin pie and then bake it in custard cups or ramekins, like flan, so easy and lighter. Note to all: When I say “pie filling” I mean the combination of pumpkin, eggs, sugar or other sweetener, eggs, milk and spices that I mix to taste. As you learned at various other of our Food Fests, I’m a pretty impromptu cook, and not much of a recipe person.

My friend Paige, who is a recipe person and a very serious cook, recommends two favorites that use winter squash. Thank you Paige for bailing me out when I am too pooped to pop (or to post):

From chef and cookbook author Mark Bittman, says Paige, a surprising combination of cod and winter squash is absolutely delicious. Try his Roasted Winter Squash With Seared Cod.

From Nigella Lawson, Paige recommends, this is another winner: Roasted pumpkin stuffed with rice into which many delicious bits have been added, including cranberries. Thank you, Paige (and Mark and Nigella).


Should you wish to grow the best of the winter squash next gardening season: A great selection of seeds for such longtime companions can be had at Sand Hill Preservation Center.



Now it’s your turn: Have a winter squash/pumpkin recipe or tip to share in the comments below? Then be sure to go visit the Dinner Tonight folks and do the same. The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or tip and favorite links (whether to your own blog or another’s) at both host blogs, mine and theirs. Thanks for attending our eighth Food Fest. And don’t forget to buy an extra beauty or two to just live with; you won’t be sorry. These Cucurbita characters make me smile daily.

  1. margaret says:

    Welcome to the Culinary Sherpas, and thank you for the great-sounding recipe, the official start to Food Fest 8. Come again soon to see us (and good luck with the rest of “summer” down there…frost due in my garden tonight).

  2. You know, even though I am in Florida, I noticed the sky turning a familiar, yet different shade of blue. Almost aqua. It was a Florida Fall sky, if there were such a thing. We have a few more months of summer (ugh), but the recipe below is a good cross of Summer and Fall utilizing squash that can be found in our region.

    Roasted Acorn Squash, Shaved Parm, and Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette:


  3. margaret says:

    @JGH: I am saving these babies for next year to sow I think, since they’ve stood by me so long.

    @gardenboy: It’s not over till it’s over…but does feel nippy here. And away we go!

  4. jgh says:

    I have never seen a blue squash and am very curious what the seeds are like in both of these! I aways take the seeds (leave em slimy) and toss with different spices to roast until crispy. I love mexican spice on the seeds.

  5. Willi says:

    I have a small kitchen garden and winter squash would gobble it up in no time if I let them sprawl. So we built a super burly teepee trellis out of cedar 2x2s. This summer I grew three butternut squash and three zucchini up it! The squash did eventually jump ship and scramble up my fence, too, but the trellis has remained sturdy, even during a surprise windstorm. It has 6 huge squash ripening on it now. You can check out pictures of it here.

    I got the plans for the trellis on Organic Gardening’s website:

  6. margaret says:

    Welcome, Willi. Love it! I have had my vining crops grow up a pine tree and over everything in sight, and always love their energy. Thanks for visiting, and for the link to the plans as well.

  7. Anne Reeves says:

    Congratulations on your 6th month blog-aversary! I blog (365 posts!) all about things that bring delight through the year (http://anadesigns.blogspot.com). You, Margaret, are a delight – you were so happy and breezy on Martha. Now that I have seen your blog I will be back to visit often! (P.S. Try roasted acrorn squash with maple powder, salt & thyme!)

  8. margaret says:

    Welcome, Anne. I am about halfway to your # of posts but feeling a slowing of my pace coming with the frost. Exhausted! Come back soon, please.

  9. margaret says:

    Welcome, Rosemary. I will run over and get the PDF, thanks…as soon as the last houseplant is tucked inside and I mow and all the rest of it. See you later!

  10. margaret says:

    Welcome, Tammy. The squash in the species C. maxima, including these, have flesh that’s fine-grained (not stringy like a pumpkin) and firm, and generally quite orange and sweet. Delicious. Do come visit again soon.

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